To read our reviews of episodes 1-3 of Powers season two, click here. For episode 4, here. To check back on all of our Powers coverage, including reviews of season one, click here. The review below contains spoilers for the previous episodes of Powers, as well as spoilers for episodes five and six.
Last week was E3 and I was on-site, so this week’s Powers review is both episode five and six. If you’ve been reading my reviews so far, you know that I’ve been loving season two. It’s taken a massive turn for the better since its rocky and disjointed first season. Shaking the Tree and Requiem — episodes five and six respectively — both do a lot to advance the plot and connect even more pieces of the puzzle, and this review is going to contain a mess of spoilers for both.
At the end of episode four, powers division was taken over by the FBI, and things start moving fast. Lange forces Walker’s hand and he goes to the media to out Heavy publicly as Retro Girl’s killer. The growing tension and distrust between Lange and Walker is believable as Walker just wants to solve the case and Lange knows more than she is letting on. I don’t think that she’s inherently bad, she’s just put into a difficult position where the choices she has to make aren’t black and white.
A Mind Game of Politics
Shaking the Tree also starts to connect the old powers’ alliance and politics together, highlighting one of the biggest draws of the themes in Powers: A world where powers aren’t entirely out of the ordinary. They may be granted celebrity status, and incite prejudice, but the world has been living with them for a long time. Finally tapping into this element is something that I had wished the first season would do, but never fully accomplished, so I am happy to see it coming to light now.
Episode five did have one bizarrely out of place scene — an interaction between Calista and Supershock on a rooftop that makes very little sense, even after having seen episode six. They begin referring to each other endearingly, using their first names, except Supershock calls Calista Janice (the original Retro Girl), and Calista doesn’t even bat an eye and just calls him Patrick right back. It almost seems like it’s trying to set up some subplot where Retro Girl’s life energy is in Calista now, but again, it doesn’t feel like there’s been any build up or payoff and the scene is inserted without any other context .
Going into episode six we have to start talking about Wil Wheaton’s charmingly creepy Conrad Moody — the powers obsessed toy manufacturer. All of his interactions with Calista as Retro Girl are innocent enough, but force a sense of unease somehow. Something is clearly wrong with this guy, and episode five begins to give suspicion that he may be involved in Retro Girl’s murder. Episode six confirms this by the end, where Moody’s compulsion is shown to go beyond dancing with a projection of Retro Girl. He’s actually got a recording of Retro Girl’s murder and claims to watch it every night.
Let’s take a step back though. If episode five moves fast after Lange takes over powers division, then episode six is the fallout from everything that’s happened so far. Before the opening credits sequence even rolls, Triphammer is shockingly murdered as Heavy easily crushes his skeleton from the inside. It’s another of those moments that proves no one is safe, except maybe Walker and Pilgrim (but I’m not even sure of that anymore). Now Heavy has killed both Retro Girl and Triphammer, which further motivates Walker to find him and end his reign of terror.
A True Moral Compass
Through this tragedy we also get to see more meaningful bonding between Pilgrim and Walker as he tries to keep her safe and she fights to stay involved. Despite being suspended, they are more driven to solve this case by any means necessary. Season two’s Deena Pilgrim and her relationship with Walker feel much more like the graphic novel arcs, as opposed to the relatively flat characters from season one. She may not have a big stake in things personally, but she’s a good person and that moral compass shows in her desire to bring wrongs to justice, whether it’s the obvious bad of Heavy or the complex issue that is Lange.
Requiem also sees the bonding of Zora and Martinez — a match that I was unsure about at first, but have come to really enjoy their chemistry. Now that Triphammer is dead, they are more determined than ever to carry on his legacy of wanting to create a new team of powers to keep order and safety. They don’t really get to do much this episode in the way of taking down bad guys though, so I’m expecting some team based ass-kicking coming up later.
As if one high profile death isn’t enough, Powers goes for broke by putting PAR head honcho Craig Sherman in a position where he opts for the gun-in-mouth exit route. He’s clearly involved, or at least aware of what happened, and the guilt quite literally ended up killing him after Walker and Pilgrim demand answers. His death does confirm their suspicions and ultimately leads them right back to Moody.
Before the ultimate confrontation with the toy manufacturer though, Heavy attempts to kill Walker and is drained and taken away by Schlag and Lange. As intimidating of a foe as he is, it is made clear he’s just a twisted hitman, taking out powers for the right price. So who’s bankrolling the hits? If you guessed the creepily happy powers obsessed toy guy, you’re right, and this episode ends in his high rise apartment.
Wil Wheaton, You Cunning Bastard
It’s a great final scene showing Moody’s brilliance. Walker and Pilgrim are suspended, so Moody — smiling the entire time — basically reveals his being the mastermind behind the whole murder plot, allegedly to make money as the Colossal Fun’s stock rises after each death. Moody knows Walker and Deena can’t do anything and plays mind games with them, crossing the line from a perceived obsession into madness. Wheaton plays this part exceptionally and drew me in to a man who is extremely charismatic, clearly intelligent, and doesn’t give a fuck. Walker isn’t going to back down though. He and Moody struggle, tumble through a window, and though Pilgrim can’t hold on to Walker, Calista manages to save him from falling to his death.
The one thing that brings down the end of Requiem ever so slightly — and this is a nitpick at best — is the lack of an obvious cliffhanger or motivating factor leading into episode seven. For all intents and purposes, the mystery is solved. Heavy has been caught. Moody as much as admitted his involvement in the murder of Retro Girl and Triphammer before being hurled out of a window by Walker. We see Walker saved by Calista. It doesn’t seem like there’s anything left for the next four episodes to do. There was no real cliffhanger. Even the post-credits scene just shows Calista going to team up with Zora and Martinez, but to what end?
It’s all too neat. Something is going to go wrong — I mean, we have four episodes left — I just wish there was more of a hint as to what. I really thought Walker would be revealed to have his powers back after falling through the window, or that there would be a tease for something a little more sinister in regards to Moody. At this point, I guess the options are open. The FBI could screw up something with Heavy. Moody could have actually survived somehow. That weird scene with Supershock and Calista could finally get a payoff. Hell, even the conspicuously absent Johnny Royalle could make a grand entrance before the end. At this point, it’s anybody’s game, and though I am eagerly awaiting more, I just wish I had any idea where it was going next.
New episodes of Powers will be released each Tuesday free for PlayStation Plus members. Everybody can watch the first episode here.